Beadleston and Woerz, Empire Brewery, New York

 

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The history of Beadleston And Worez is best told in the obituary of Alfred N Beadleston who died suddenly while on vacation in 1917. At the time, he was serving as president of the company. I found the obituary in the January-June 1917 Issue of the ‘Western Brewer and Journal of Barley Malt and Hop Trades”. Excerpts relating to company history are presented in the following paragraphs.

  • Beadleston and Woerz was the outgrowth of the small brewing business started in Troy NY in 1825 by Abraham Nash, called Nash and Co. In 1837, Ebenezer Beadleston, a relative of Nash living in Troy moved to NYC to serve as the company’s NYC representative. Three years later in 1840 the company became known as Nash, Beadleston and Company. In 1845 they purchased the old state prison property in NYC bounded by Washington, Charles, West and W 10th The prison had been first occupied in 1797 but upon completion of Sing-Sing in 1828 the convicts were removed to the more modern establishment. The site was in what was then called the Village of Greenwich (now called Greenwich Village) and the substantial stone buildings were fitted up for brewing and malting purposes. The plant was put into operation as the Empire Brewery.
  • Until 1856 the Troy and NYC businesses were operated jointly, NYC as a branch of the Troy brewery. In 1860 Nash retired and was succeeded by W. W. Price an employee of the business. In that year Ernest G.W. Woerz took charge of the practical and technical part of the business.
  • Ebenezer Beadleston retired from active participation in the business in 1865 and the firm name became Beadleston, Price and Woerz, the members being Ebenezer Beadleston, W.W. Price, Alfred N Beadleston (Ebenezer’s son) and E.G.W. Woerz. Price died in 1876 and in 1878 the firm name was changed to Beadleston and Woerz. Around this time they upgraded the plant, building a new and larger brewery building (some of the existing prison walls were incorporated into the new building). The business was incorporated under the Beadleston and Woerz name in 1889 and Alfred N Beadleston served as president until his death in 1917.

In 1879, Beadleston and Woerz was the 14th largest brewery in the United States producing 78,000 barrels.

The earliest newspaper advertisements for Beadleston & Woerz that I could find date back to 1887. One such advertisement, printed in the October 27 issue of the New York Sun stated:

Physicians predict increase of popularity of the “Imperial Beer” and “Culbacher” which they commend for purity.

Advertisements for Bradleston and Woertz’s Imperial Beer appear in several 1894 magazine issues including Puck Magazine and Life Magazine.  They claim it to be the King of Beers (long before Budweiser).

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They apparently sold a number of different beers under their “Imperial” Label. One called “Imperial German Brew” was introduced as a new brand in 1897. A printed notice in the May 25, 1897 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle described the new product.

Old Fashioned German Beer – Popular taste, like fashion, shows a pronounced tendency nowadays to return to the good old customs and enjoyments of our forefathers. This is particularly noticeable among customers of lager beer, who as a class, are showing preference, akin to an affection, for the old-fashioned German brewing. To gratify this growing demand Beadleston & Woerz, of New York, one of the largest breweries in the United States, have just introduced a new brand called Imperial German Brew, in which, by their strict adherence to malt and hops, exclusively, for the ingredients, the purity, flavor, color and body of the old-fashioned lager beer is reproduced to a degree of perfection that makes it identical to the product of fifty years ago. For the purposes of giving an immediate opportunity to persons desiring to try it Beadleston & Woerz will deliver it direct from the brewery, 291 West Tenth St., New York.

Another advertisement, from the November 19, 1909 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, actually implies medicinal qualities associated with their “Imperial Stout,” stating: “Is ideal for those who are recovering from illness or whose systems require a healthful and sustaining stimulant”

An recent archeological study done for the brewery site states that Prohibition shut the plant down permanently in 1920 but the business transitioned into real estate because of all the properties they owned. Apparently they didn’t waste much time. The December 16, 1920 edition of the New York Tribune contained the following story.

A large section of the Beadleston & Woerz Empire Brewery property, a landmark at 158-166 Charles Street, has been leased to the Reynolds Whitney Warehouse Co., Inc., for twenty years at an aggregate rental of $600,000. The warehouse company also secured an option to lease the buildings at 674 and 676 Washington Street and 287-303 West Tenth Street.

I’ve found two bottles, both tooled crowns probably in the 1900 to 1910 range. I’ve seen similar bottles on the Internet with their labels still present.

     

Bajorath, Long Island City

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Charles Bajorath appears to have been a small-scale bottler of lager beer that worked out of his residence. According to the 1910 census records he immigrated to the U.S. in 1886 but the first mention of him in the NYC Directory was in 1892 as a bottler with just a home listing at 428 E 92nd Street. Subsequently, he was listed sporadically (1903 Trow Business Directory and 1909 City Directory are the only listings I could find) as a beer bottler at 1735 Second Avenue.

In 1910 he moved to 461 Washington Avenue in Long Island City. The 1910 Census Records indicated that he had a beer bottling business that he ran out of his house and the 1912 Queens Business Directory listed him as a bottler of lager beer at the Washington Avenue address. In addition, the Annual Report of the State Commission of Excise listed him as a liquor tax certificate holder for the years 1911 and 1913. He was listed in the 1920 Census Records (name spelled incorrectly) but at this point he’s in his 70’s and did not list a business or occupation.

Washington Avenue was later renamed 36th Avenue in Long Island City. I can’t relate the No. 461 to any specific block.

The bottle I found is a brown champagne style bottle. It has “L. I. City” embossed on it, dating it to after his move to Long Island City in 1910. Interestingly it is machine made but has a blob finish (almost all machine made beer bottles that I’ve found have a crown finish).

A. Busch Bottling Co., Brooklyn NY

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The A. Busch Bottling Company came into existence on July 8, 1897 when the Thimig Bottling Company of Brooklyn New York officially changed its name. The legal notice announcing the name change was printed in the June 7, 1897 edition of the Brooklyn Times Union. The notice, in part, read:

Now on motion of David F. Manning, attorney for the said pertitioner, no one opposing, it is

Ordered that said petition be and the same hereby is granted, and that the petitioner herein, the Thimig Bottling Company, be and it hereby is authorized to assume another corporate name, to wit, the A. Busch Bottling Company, on and after the 8th day of July, 1897…

The roots of the business however date back as far as 1865 when a German immigrant named Herman Thimig arrived in the United States and began business in Thompkinsville, Staten Island. According to Thimig’s December 27, 1892 obituary in the Brooklyn Citizen:

He had nothing when he arrived here, but his frank manner soon won the confidence of Abram Meyers, the brewer, who started him in business on Staten Island within six months after his arrival. Here he bottled his first beer in this country, and his first order delivered in Brooklyn was two dozen bottles. He continued in business at Staten Island about one year, during which time, his business steadily increased, and in 1866 he moved to this city (Brooklyn), where he has since been located.

A feature on Thimig, published in the September 21, 1890 edition of the Brooklyn Citizen picks up the story from there describing his start in Brooklyn.

After searching for a suitable place in which to start, he selected No. 283 Atlantic Avenue, near Smith Street and here his career as a Brooklyn bottler commenced…The different kinds of beer that he put up gained such a reputation that people wanted to drink it at his establishment. Of course all this was highly satisfactory to Mr. Thimig, but he found that he had to start a retail store to accommodate the new class of customers. Therefore “Thimigs” sprang into existence at No. 288 Atlantic Avenue.

It was an advertisement for his retail store or saloon in the April 26, 1884 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that provided the earliest evidence I can find connecting Thimig with Anheuser-Busch.

The 1890 feature went on to describe the growth of the bottling business.

But while his saloon was prospering his bottling business was increasing to such an extent that he had to separate that establishment from the saloon, consequently he bought the premises Nos. 50 and 52 Bergen Street, which comprise three buildings and where his bottling is done today (1890). It has been stated that when he started to bottle at Staten Island he only got rid of four dozen a day.

Now he bottles 1,ooo dozen a day and the three Bergen Street buildings are altogether too small. He has two sets of men, one of which works in the day and the other at night time, and still he is pressed. It should be said here that Mr. Thimig owns the property at 285 and 288 (Atlantic). He has twenty horses there and eight wagons are on the go all the time, while there are four extra wagons which are almost always in requisition.

Ultimately the demands of the bottling business necessitated that he sell the saloon which he did in 1888 to long time employee Charles Hoefer.

This ever increasing business was certainly the result of Thimig’s association with the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Co., where at the time he was serving as their sole agent for Brooklyn and Long Island. In 1890, their association led to joint construction of a new depot and bottling establishment at 433-435 Atlantic Avenue. According to the 1890 Brooklyn Citizen feature:

With the business therefore increasing every day, it became very plain to Mr. Thimig that the present factory was altogether inadequate, and that he would have to secure larger quarters to meet the growing demands for his bottled goods. He, therefore, purchased the lots on Atlantic Avenue, on which his immense bottling establishment is in the course of erection, and the building is going up under the joint direction of the Anheuser-Busch Association and Mr. Thimig. Mr. Thimig owns the ground, not only on which the building will stand, but also purchased an additional plot having a frontage of fifty feet, and which is designed for an extension to the structure should business demand it. While the Anheuser-Busch Association is in reality backing Mr. Thimig in the erection of the building, still an agreement has been entered into by which the latter gentleman can acquire the full ownership. It will be the largest bottling establishment in New York or Brooklyn and will cost $100,000.

A description of the new building, along with a rendering, was included with the feature and it indicated that this venture appeared to be a pretty good deal for Thimig. Not only was he getting new facilities for his business but he got new living quarters as well.

The structure will cover a plot of ground 106 x 54 feet. The front of the building will be of fancy brick and the interior will be of wood and iron. The first floor will be used as a store and bottling establishment and will be handsomely fitted up. The second floor will be used for office purposes, and part of it will be fixed up with private apartments for the use of Herman Thimig, who is to have charge of the establishment. The third and fourth floors will be used for storage purposes for a time

Unfortunately Thimig didn’t get to enjoy his new facility very long because two years later, in December, 1892, he passed away. At that point Herman’s son, Adolph B Thimig, assumed control of the business. According to the 1890 Brooklyn Citizen feature he had been running the day to day operation of the business for some time. As early as January 1, 1893 this Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement referred to the business as “H. Thimig & Son.”

Still formally known as the Thimig Bottling Co., the business incorporated later that year. The incorporation notice was published in the December 19, 1893 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Another notice, this one in the December 22, 1893 edition of the Eagle named Carl Conrad as president and Adolph B. Thimig as treasurer of the corporation. The change in name to the A. Busch Bottling Company followed four years later.

The A Busch Bottling Co was listed in all of the Brooklyn City Directories and Telephone Directories I could find between 1899 and 1917 at 433-435 Atlantic Avenue. Adolph Thimig passed away at the age of 37 in February, 1902. Whether or not he was still associated with the business at that point is not clear. The 1913-1914 Copartnership and Corporation Directory for Brooklyn and Queens listed the business as a N. Y. Corporation with E A Faust as President; J Alfred Piper as Vice Pesident and H P Hof as Secretary and Treasurer.

Around the time the A Busch Bottling Company was established they were bottling several different Anheuser-Busch brands. An advertising item in the October 11, 1900 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle named them as wholesale dealers for the following bottled beers: Budweiser, Faust, Black & Tan, Anheuser Standard, Export Pale, Exquisite and Pale Lager.

Other advertisements in that time frame mentioned Michelob as well.

Another product they distributed early on was a tonic called “Malt-Nutrine, the helpful food drink to promote appetite, restore health, build body and brain.”

During the early 1900’s, Anheuser-Busch and primarily the Budweiser brand was growing leaps and bounds. This growth was documented by A Busch Bottling Company advertisements that indicated that Budweiser sales went from 83 million bottles to 130 million bottles in just the two years from 1902 to 1904.

 

As Prohibition was getting underway the company was still in operation as evidenced by advertisements for a soft drink called “Bevo” that appeared in Brooklyn newspapers from 1917 to 1919.

These advertisements disappear in 1920 and the A Busch Bottling Company was not listed in the 1922 Copartnership and Corporation Directory for Brooklyn and Queens so it appears that the company did not survive even the earliest stages of National Prohibition. Anheuser-Busch was still marketing products in New York at that time, including a tonic version of Budweiser and Anheuser Busch Ginger Ale, but by the early 1920’s their advertisements listed the Anheuser-Busch Ice & Cold Storage Co., Inc. as their distributor. An advertisement from July 1, 1924 listed that company’s address as 48 Warren Street in Brooklyn. Other advertisements also listed a 166th Street address in NYC.

Later, Anheuser-Busch listed Anheuser-Busch Inc. at 515 West 16th Street as their distributor for their “Budweiser Barley Malt Syrup.” that was first marketed in 1926. According to a June 1933 advertisement, that location was serving as the Anheuser Busch-New York Branch when Prohibition ended.

Today, 433 to 443 Atlantic Avenue is a series of renovated apartment buildings. They don’t appear old enough to be associated with this business but the other side of Atlantic Avenue appears older.

I have found two champagne style bottles both with tooled crowns. They are embossed with the A Busch Bottling Co. name so they date no earlier than 1897. I’d say they fit within the first half of the 1897 to 1917 time frame of the business.